Comments made by an unnamed U.S. official suggest the death penalty may not have been removed from Uganda‘s “Kill The Gays” bill. The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson is reporting that a source at the U.S. State Department in Kampala says Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill has not yet been voted out of committee, contrary to reports from Ugandan politicians and new outlets. Johnson also notes that an unnamed “embassy source” states that the Ugandan parliament committee does not have the power to change the bill, only to make recommendations on the bill.
Putting these items together could lead one to assume that the death penalty has not been removed from the Kill The Gays bill, as The New Civil Rights Movement and a few others have maintained.
However, it’s important to note that the State Department has not stated the death penalty has not been removed, nor did the Blade.
The Blade reports:
U.S. officials offered a different account about the status of a draconian anti-gay bill in Uganda on Tuesday, saying the legislation had yet to move out of committee and disputing earlier media reports and State Department comments by saying the panel is incapable of removing the infamous death penalty provision from the legislation.
“In an email to the Washington Blade on Tuesday, an informed source at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala said the bill is still in committee,” Johnson adds. “That contradicts media reports on the bill — which imposes a penalty of life in prison for homosexual acts — that indicated the Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee had reported out the bill last week.”
Additionally, the embassy source, who asked not to be named, said that the committee can only compile a report on the bill for recommendations to the bill, and can’t make changes to it, such as removing the death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality,” which media sources reported has been removed. An earlier version of the bill defined “aggravated homosexuality” as someone with HIV engaging in homosexual acts, having homosexual sex with a minor or the repeated offense of homosexuality.
Johnson also reports that State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland “believes” Uganda President “Museveni ‘took onboard’ the potential negative impact of the bill during his talks with Carson.”
He quotes State Department spokesperson Nicole Thompson saying she “can pretty assuredly say that this is an issue of ongoing and continual dialogue between our government … and the government of Uganda.”
“The United States shares the concerns of several members of Uganda’s civil society and the Ugandan government’s own human rights commission, which determined the anti-homosexuality bill violates both Uganda’s constitution and its obligations under international law,” Thompson said. “Beyond that, we have serious concerns about the negative impact of the bill on public health interests in Uganda, including our concerns that it would undercut Uganda’s ability to fight HIV/AIDS infection and the spread of HIV/AIDS.”
Thompson added, “We just note that as President Obama said in reference to the same anti-homosexuality bill and his comments during the National Prayer Breakfast, it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are.”
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